Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has fired his army chief
President Lula is expected to push for greater regional integration at the summit. Photo by: AFP/Douglas Magno

A summit took place in Brazil on Tuesday, bringing together leaders and delegates from 12 South American nations. The purpose of the summit was to revive the regional bloc formerly known as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva aimed to promote increased regional integration during the summit, which was held in the capital city of Brasilia.

"We let ideology divide us and interrupt our efforts to integrate. We abandoned our channels of dialogue and our mechanisms of cooperation, and we all lost because of it," Lula said on Tuesday.

In his address, Lula advocated for the development of a regional trade currency that could compete with the dollar's dominance.

The gathering serves as a reminder of South America's evolving political landscape, where leftist political movements have seen a comeback following years of predominantly conservative leadership.

UNASUR was co-founded by Lula and other leftist politicians, who declared their intentions in 2004 and signed a treaty in 2008. However, the organization's final meeting was held nine years ago, and it eventually broke apart as the area shifted to the right, Al Jazeera reported.

"This is the first meeting they have had in nine years, and that is a very very long time," Al Jazeera's Lucia Newman reported in a TV interview from Brasilia. "And the whole gist of this is to try to find a way to recover what once appeared to be on the roadmap here in the region and that is ... South American integration."

Although the conference on Tuesday was held in private, additional subjects like as energy, money, crime, and fighting climate change are anticipated to be discussed.

Another indicator of the leftward shift in the area is the cordial welcome given by Lula to Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, who was previously barred from entering Brazil by Lula's right-wing predecessor Jair Bolsonaro.

Brazil supported Juan Guaido's unsuccessful attempt to seize the power of Venezuela when Bolsonaro was president.

"I find it's a great initiative by President Lula da Silva," Temir Porras — a former foreign policy adviser to the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who helped co-found UNASUR said. "South American integration is probably not possible without the participation of Brazil. Brazil is the largest country in the region, it's the main economy, and it's a global diplomatic powerhouse."

"This time the lesson to be learned is that this integration needs to be pragmatic. It has to be practical. It has to translate into benefits for most of the South American population in order to last," said Porras.

He said that in order to prevent the organization from fragmenting in the event of future political shifts in the continent, integration must yield concrete advantages and tangible benefits.

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